Monday, December 24, 2018

We Remember Michael A. Savino

We Remember …

Michael A. Savino
AKA The Ranger Pundit
December 21, 1930 – December 16, 2018

The Family of Michael A. Savino share the news of his passing with those who frequented this site, that of The Ranger Pundit.

Deteriorating health over the past couple of seasons hindered his ability, and enthusiasm, to post his views and opinions. But his loyalty to the Rangers never wavered. To that end, family and friends paid tribute to Mike by wearing Ranger jerseys to his wake.

We appreciate the flowers sent by members of the Madison Square Garden marketing group @TheGarden, as well as the touching tribute shared on the WFAN Morning Show @WFAN660. During his lifetime, the Rangers won three Stanley Cups, and he was an active fan during the latter two.

Beginning in the late 90s, he spent over 15 years joining with his two sons as a season-ticket-holder attendee, once participating in a last game on-ice jersey ceremony—receiving the jersey of Michael Nylander. His favorite player during the 70s was Rod Gilbert, and Andy Bathgate stood atop his list of all-time favorite Rangers. He was speechless when a few years back, after successful triple-bypass surgery, he received a get-well message from Adam Graves, and was thrilled to share his 80th birthday spotlight with Sean Avery.

In the end, The Pundit was pretty much like all Ranger fans: whoever won the game was his favorite at that moment. And when things were going south, he wanted a coaching change and a major trade. If Heaven is what they say it is, then the Rangers beat Detroit in Game 7 in 1950, win 4 straight against the Canadians in 1979, and the Islanders never win the Cup. Now that’s a hat trick that The Pundit would be happy to write about!

Mike at Rangers game with son and grandson
Mike at Rangers game with grandson and granddaughter
Mike and Maryann

Thursday, May 24, 2018

New Era Begins on Broadway with David Quinn Introduced as NY Rangers Head Coach

Dan Quinn introduced as new NY Rangers Head Coach
David Quinn holding the 2015 Beanpot Trophy
The MSG network televised the NY Rangers Head Coach Press Conference Thursday afternoon and it was, of course, all sunshine and rainbows regarding David Quinn as the new coach.

Quinn, 51 years old, was with the Boston University Terriers for five years before accepting the Rangers job. At BU Quinn replaced the legendary Jack Parker in 2013, and he had a 105-68-21 record, which included four trips to the NCAA tournament and a national title game appearance in 2015. His BU team lost to Providence in that NCAA title game.

Surprisingly Quinn's BU team won just one Beanpot Trophy (2015) in his five seasons. And his team lost in the Beanpot finals the last three years (2016-18). The Beanpot tournament (BU, BC, Harvard, and Northeastern) is a big deal in the Boston area and one win in five years is not very good. Other than that he does have an impressive coaching resume.

Coaching career (Head Coach unless noted)
1994–1996Northeastern (assistant)
1996–2002Nebraska–Omaha (assistant)
1999–2000Team USA (assistant)
2002–2004Team USA U17
2003Team USA U18 (assistant)
2004–2009Boston University (assistant)
2009–2012Lake Erie Monsters
2012Team USA (assistant)
2012–2013Colorado Avalanche (assistant)
2013–2018Boston University
2016Team USA (assistant)

The Rangers going for a rebuilding college coach instead of an NHL retread is considered by most observers to be a smart move given the type of players the Rangers are stockpiling. The Rangers have 13 players from the college game competing for a Blueshirt job: Kevin Shattenkirk (who was coached by Quinn at B.U.), Chris Kreider (B.C.), Kevin Hayes (B.C.), Brady Skjei (Minnesota), Jimmy Vesey (Harvard), Neal Pionk (UMD), Brendan Smith (Wisconsin), Rob O’Gara (Yale), John Gilmour (Providence), Steven Kampfer (Michigan), Boo Nieves (Michigan), Vinni Lettieri (Minnesota); and Ryan Lindgren (Minnesota).

MSG analyst Steve Valiquette said that "the NY Rangers could have potentially 10 collegiate graduates in their lineup next year. This is David Quinn's wheelhouse."

Quinn reportedly signed a 5 year deal for $12 million ($2.4M per year), which was bumped up from a 4 year $8 million initial package, in order to pry him out of Boston University.

All of the commentary from Steve Valiquette regarding Quinn's coaching prowess was of course very positive. Quinn played as a defenseman, and he brings a defense first mentality, which apparently means that we should not expect to see Rangers defensemen dropping to one knee and screening the goaltender.

When asked, Quinn said he still expects Lundqvist to be the Rangers goalie. Quinn said in reply to a Stan Fischler question, that his favorite hockey team while growing up in Cranston, RI, was the Boston Bruins and that Ray Bork, the Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman, was his favorite player. The Rangers were his second "favorite" team.

The Rangers have a busy schedule coming up and Quinn will quickly go to work, getting his assistants lined up, and then getting a roster put together with Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury.
Quinn's mission will be to develop young players and win at the same time. MSG Network tweeted: "David Quinn is being counted on to hit the ground running." We wish him all the best.

Key dates coming up:

  • NHL Combine: June 1-2 
  • NHL Draft: June 22-23 
  • Prospects Camp: June 25 
  • NHL Free Agency: July 1

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Fired: Alain Vigneault

Polite, professional and passionless NY Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault has been "relieved of his coaching duties," according to the club. The fired Vigneault apparently did get fired up after the Rangers blow out 5-0 loss to the Flyers in yesterday's season finale. During the postgame media briefing Vigneault "made an impassioned defense of his record and said he expected to stay on as coach." So with his neck on the chopping block, AV got a wee bit emotional and worked up, but not enough to take any personal responsibility for a stinker of a season and the team's four year downward trajectory since the 2014 Stanley Cup finals. Sorry, that doesn't work.

Justin Tasch / NY Daily News:
Alain Vigneault expects to remain with Rangers as team ends season with loss to Flyers --

Vigneault launched a vehement defense of his coaching ability and resume after the game before saying he does expect to remain with the team for the 2018-19 season.

“Yes, yes. Without a doubt,” Vigneault said. “I think my staff is the right staff for this job. This is just my opinion, but I think one of the strongest assets of this organization is its coaching staff and their experience. We’ve been able to do it with veteran players, we’ve been able to do it with younger players. Our development record, and our record, wins and losses, you know what? It’s pretty good, with older and younger players.”...

Not once during his several-minutes-long address did he take responsibility how the team’s season went.
Most Rangers fans checked out of this season months ago. So this move comes as no surprise.

Vigneault's fate was signaled back in October by Rangers management, with Larry Brooks saying that his job was in trouble after a 3-7-2 start to the season, with his NY Post article: Alan Vigneault may have one game left.

The Hockey News breaks down just how terrible this season was:
Vigneault getting the axe isn’t all that shocking... Consider then that New York finished in the bottom third of the league in goals, goals against, shots and shot against per game, finished with the sixth-lowest regulation and overtime win total and had absolutely dreadful underlying numbers across the board. At 5-on-5, the Rangers’ shots for percentage was last in the league, their Corsi for percentage was last in the league, and only one team, coincidentally the cross-town rival New York Islanders, allowed more scoring chances against and high-danger attempts against. So, yeah, it’s wholly unsurprising that a coaching change was made as a result of a season this objectively poor.

What is slightly more confusing about Vigneault’s firing, however, is that the decision wasn’t made sooner.
Firing AV was the right thing to do. In 5 years he's proven that he is not the guy to bring the Cup back to New York.

Joe Fortunato writes a nice eulogy for the newly departed AV, over at Blueshirt Banter: Alain Vigneault Never Blamed Himself And It Got Him Fired --

  • the biggest red flag: Inconsistent Player Development... 
  • the second problem: Vigneault never knew how to look at himself and realize the things he wanted to work weren’t actually working...
  • the third problem: Vigneault never knew how to adjust when things weren’t working.

NY Rangers fans have now had 5 years of "fire and fury" with John Tortorella, and 5 years of "ice and inconsistency" from Alain Vigneault. What's next? Are we now due for 5 years of "pain and suffering" for the sins of Father Sather and protégé Jeff Gorton. A rebuilding of this team could certainly take several, if not 5 years.

Ironically, the best person for the job of Rangers head coach slipped thru their fingers a couple of times: Mike Sullivan. Tortorella's former assistant and now two-time Stanley Cup winning coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been an interesting choice to coach the Rangers, if AV had not gotten the job.

The speculation on who the next coach will be interesting, one of the few things Rangers fans can do during a dismal off season. But, please no Lindy Ruff.

Sporting News:
Rangers' five best coaching candidates to replace Alain Vigneault --

  • Lindy Ruff, Current job: Rangers assistant coach, Age: 58, NHL record: 736-554-125 (.561)
  • Dan Bylsma, Current job: NHL Network analyst, Age: 47, NHL record: 320-190-55 (.615)
  • Darryl Sutter, Current job: Free agent, Age: 59, NHL record: 634-467-83 (.565)
  • Sheldon Keefe, Current job: Toronto Marlies head coach, Age: 37, NHL record: 0-0-0
  • Jim Montgomery, Current job: University of Denver head coach, Age: 48, NHL record: 0-0-0

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Pavel Buchnevich gives away a stick

Yes, the Rangers got the, 4-3, overtime win against Pittsburgh, but the highlight I'll remember is 12-year-old Rangers fans, Benjamin Lefkowitz, getting Pavel Buchnevich's stick.

The Rangers tweeted out a picture last night, and ESPN Sports Center gave us the backstory this morning.

Good job out of you Pavel.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rangers On the Edge of the Abyss

It's time, All-Star break weekend, 50 games played, 32 remaining in the 2017-18 season, will this team get patched up, or blown up?

Standings: Ranges outside of Wild Card at All-Star Break
Rangers outside of Playoffs after 50 games

Last night's 6-5 victory over the San Jose Sharks keeps the NY Rangers in the Wild Card hunt, but only by a thread. Another 3 game losing streak like they had out West against the Avs, Kings, and Ducks, and this team will certainly get blown up. The demolition will begin with the three unrestricted free agents: Nash, Grabner, and Holden. Where it ends is anyone's guess.

The consensus out there in Rangerland looks like it's a go for the demolition to begin.

Justin / BlueSeatBlog:
Tear it down --
In the spirit of “hate week” as Dave has coined it, it’s time to burn it down. If the organization wants to get Lundqvist that elusive Cup, it needs to take decisive action to give the organization a complete overhaul and recognize this for the lost season it is. I don’t think there is any way around it. This team is going nowhere... The Coaching Staff - Lay waste to it...
Sam Prevot / Blue Line Station:
New York Rangers: Why missing the playoffs isn’t a bad thing  --
"Missing the playoffs could be a blessing in disguise for the New York Rangers. It is now time to start looking at the future of the team when it comes to prospects and the 2018 NHL Draft..."
Shayna Goldman / Blueshirt Banter:
Banter Roundtable: 2018 Trade Deadline --
"The first question was whether we believe the Rangers should be buyers or sellers; we unanimously agreed that the Rangers should be sellers. The fact is, this team is flawed in almost every way – except for in net, and their stellar goaltending masks most of their deficiencies..."
However, a few are still holding out hope for a resurrection. Sean McCaffrey over at the Blue Collar Blueshirts, before the West Coast losing streak said:
"Ranger fans, don’t give up on this team yet. Don’t buy the “RANGERS MUST SELL” shit. The field is wide open this year and with the way your boy Henrik Lundqvist is playing, why would you wave the white flag..."
That's a little ironic, given Sean's frequent Lundqvist bashing, but he makes an excellent point about the field being wide open for any team that gets hot going into the playoffs. That team could be the Rangers.

Don La Greca, the back up Rangers play by play guy, and Michael Kay Show co-host underscores that point:
I just don't know what you're gonna get for Rick Nash, when you have Evander Kane out there, who's a little bit younger. Who Buffalo is going to trade for players. It's a tough spot... If this team is within 2 points of a playoff spot (on Feb. 26th), don't you have to, kind of, try and make it in this sport of all sports. It's a wide open Eastern conference, right.... I'm all for rebuilding, but unless you are going to get a Herschel Walker type of deal for some of these guys, I think I want to try and see what I can do in the playoffs.
So what's a GM to do?  The trade deadline is February 26th, exactly a month away. We say: wait and see. If these players want to have a last hurrah, they should go and get it.

Our guess is the decision will be made by February 17th, when the Blueshirts complete a 4 game road trip in Ottawa. That road trip probably decides the fate of this team and this season (2/11 at Winnipeg, 2/13 at Minnesota, 2/15 at the Islanders, 2/17 at Ottawa). They must go at least 2-2 on that trip. If you can't win on the road, how are you going to win in the playoffs? Of course, the 5 games before that road trip could tip the balance, but the Rangers play on that road trip should be the decider.


Larry Brooks is now saying that Rangers management is going to blow it all up.

NY Post (Jan 26, 2018):
The Rangers are going to blow it all up -- 
There is no ambivalence within management. The Blueshirts, we’re told on good authority, view the Feb. 26 trade deadline as a unique opportunity to refresh the roster and replenish the organization, regardless of where the club stands in relation to a playoff spot.

The mandate, approved (if not established) in the owner’s suite by Jim Dolan, is to build a Stanley Cup winner rather than to simply extend a seven-year playoff streak that is in jeopardy...

Rangers standing on the edge of the abyss

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